In the United States today, the lab test services industry is made up of 3 different market segments. Lab test services can be provided to you via a Physician’s Office Lab (POL), a Hospital Laboratory or a Reference Laboratory. When dealing with infectious disease, traditionally the work is usually sent out to the reference laboratory or the hospital laboratory. Infectious disease testing is usually more complex when compared to routine and wellness testing. When infectious disease testing is ordered, it is usually to diagnose a specific pathogen causing the illness in a patient.
Many of the times doctors can target the infectious disease through the symptoms a patient is exhibiting. In these cases, he or she will order a succinct battery of tests to prove his or hers theory. In many cases with infectious disease, the doctor may be applying and educated guess and will order a battery of lab tests to try and collateral cover his or her guess.
Lab test services are traditionally provided through a primary care physician who orders a battery of tests for his or her patient. A lab prescription is written and the patient takes the prescription to the laboratory to have his or her blood drawn. From this point, the hospital or reference lab will perform the lab testing. The testing is sent to the hospital or reference lab because the majority of infectious disease testing is highly complex. Highly complex testing is for example Hepatitis Antibody testing or HIV testing. Hospital Labs will usually offer lab test services to their patients that are admitted to the hospital and reference labs will provide services to physicians in the community. Physician’s office labs can only provide lab test services to their own patients. A POL cannot perform lab testing to other physician’s patients as they are not licensed to test for patients outside of the physicians practice.
With all of the traditional testing out there, there are online lab test services that are directed to consumers that do not have health insurance and cannot afford to make the multiple visits to their doctor to get a lab prescription and review their lab results. This is called Direct Access Testing or what is also known as direct to consumer lab testing. All you have to do is go to Google and type in “lab testing online” and you can find several companies that can provide consumers lab test services that will not require a doctor’s visit.
With this being said, it is possible to get your infectious disease testing performed in 47 states or what others refer to as online lab testing without a prescription. The states that do not allow for this are New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. These three states still have not come around to the 21st century and adopted the Personal health care revolution that is taking place. We have some hope for these three states still. For consumers it’s as simple as creating a HIPPA compliant secure account and then paying for your lab testing. From this point, you would print out your lab prescription and then locate blood test labs or draw centers that are closest to you. You would than visit any of these blood test labs and have your blood drawn by a certified phlebotomist. Once you get your blood drawn, the sample is sent to the local reference lab to be tested and your lab results are usually ready within 48 hours. If there is any specialized testing or what may be called esoteric testing, the sample may be required to be shipped to a special lab. This could add a day or two to the turnaround time of your lab test services. The blood test labs are usually located in densely populated areas such as cities or heavily populated suburban locations.